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Applying for a VA benefits rating increase may seem straightforward. Still, there are actually four distinct ways to get an increase to your VA disability rating depending on your disability, the rating you are seeking, and where you are in the application process. Tabak Law will walk you through each of those scenarios.

4 Ways to Increase Your VA Disability Rating

Your VA disability rating dictates your pay. You want your rating to be as high as possible especially if it affects your ability to earn an income. If you are looking for an increase, below are the four ways you can do it. We will also go into each of these scenarios in more detail before we are through.

  • File an Appeal
  • File a Claim
  • File for a Secondary Service Connection
  • File for TDIU

How Does the VA Rate Sleep Apnea for Disability?

Filing for an Appeal to Increase Your VA Disability Rating

This only applies if you believe your initial rating is too low when the VA initially grants your claim. At this point, you have three further options for how to proceed: a higher-level review, a supplemental claim, or a Notice of Disagreement.

VA Benefits medical paperwork
  • Higher Level of Review—With this option, the Regional Office will review your claim. When you go this route you cannot submit additional evidence.
  • Supplemental Claim—If you have new evidence. Submitting new evidence will keep your effective date the same if new evidence was submitted within a year of the initial decision. 
  • Notice of Disagreement—If you received an unfavorable decision from the RO, then you can file a Notice of Disagreement. This will put your claim in front of the board. You can also choose to have a hearing in front of a veterans law judge.

File a Claim to Increase Your VA Disability Rating

When the VA gave you your initial claim decision, you may have agreed with their rating. As time passes, your condition may worsen, and if you are beyond the 1-year mark from your initial decision, then you can no longer appeal it.

Once you’re in this situation, you can file a new claim for an increased rating. Your claim will be treated like any other but you can bring any new evidence or information in to support an increased rating. After filing, you will probably be required to do another Compensation and Pension examination. Do not miss this exam or your claim may be denied.

If this is the best option for you, then you can start the process by filling out VA Form 21-526EZ.

File for a Secondary Service Connection

What if your condition hasn’t worsened, but another service-connected condition has? This is where you can claim a secondary service-connected disability. This will not be a rating increase technically, but will often result in additional compensation.

It can be hard to prove your claim depending on what your secondary condition is, but more often than not, the secondary condition will be directly related to your primary condition. For example, if the medication that you used to treat your PTSD is causing other medical issues. 

File for TDIU

TDIU of total disability based on individual unemployability is a 100% disability rating. TDIU is handled a little differently than a regular VA benefits disability rating. Even if your rating doesn’t hit 100%, if you are unable to maintain substantial gainful employment due to your conditions, you may qualify for TDIU and get a full 100% benefit.

Before you can apply, you must have a disability rating of at least 60% or a combined rating of at least 70% with one of your conditions having at least a 40% rating. If you do not meet these requirements, it is still possible for you to qualify on an extra-schedular basis. This is harder to prove, but the VA still does provide an avenue for TDIU even without the minimums, as it recognizes that functional limitations can take many forms that are not always perfectly represented by the rating system.

If this is the best option for you, then you can start the process by filling out VA Form 21-894.

Official VA Benefits Cost-of-Living Adjustment Increase for 2024

Need Legal Help With Your VA Benefits Claim?

If you need legal assistance in getting the VA benefits that you deserve, feel free to reach out to Tabka Law for a free case review. We have years of experience in veterans benefit law, and we are ready to help you!

Nothing posted on this website is intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. Blog postings and site content are available for general education purposes only.

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